Stephen and Catherine were both looking for ways to broaden their dating horizons and find people they might be compatible with. It’s not an unusual circumstance by any means, but they were both in situations that increased the attractiveness of going online.
“I am a traditional Catholic who only attends the Latin Mass,” Catherine said. “That narrowed my options a bit, both in the real world and online. I didn’t really think I would find someone, but figured it would increase my chances.”
Meanwhile, Stephen lived in a small town that offered a limited pool of dating possibilities, and the past several years had seen his own understanding of the Catholic Church move in a more traditional direction.
Catherine, 27-years-old and a native of Australia, where she works teaching Indonesian and English, had been a part of CatholicMatch for seven years, though only a full member for a small fraction of that time. In September of 2011, she decided to take out a full membership, if nothing else just to check out what was available in and around Melbourne.
“I talked to a few people, but didn’t really click with any of them,” Catherine recalled. Then she came across Stephen’s profile. She was intrigued, but hesitant. It wasn’t that Stephen lived in the United States that held her back though. “I’m an English teacher and a stickler for grammar. He had some spelling and grammatical errors, and, perhaps it was superficial of me, but I didn’t send him a smiley,” she admitted.
Stephen noticed that Catherine had viewed his profile and he had no such reservations. The 35-year-old had been on CatholicMatch before and taken a break after a run of unsuccessful dates. On this day though, he had just finished a novena to St. Therese of Lisieux (“the Little Flower”) to find a girl whose outlook on faith and life matched his, and he saw in Catherine the possible answer to that prayer.
Within a few days of Stephen’s initial message, which came during Catherine’s spring break, they spent hours instant messaging on Skype, and a week later did a voice call. This soon led to regular video calling.
The summer holiday for teachers in Australia is in January, and in that first month of 2012, Stephen made a visit down under. “I didn’t know how it would turn out,” Catherine told CatholicMatch. “I knew that people can be very different online than in person, but I thought that there was potential for a relationship to blossom.”
After ten days, they both knew something special was in the works. Catherine made a return visit to the States to visit Stephen’s family in Montana that July, and he was back in Australia for Christmas Day of 2012.
The completeness of their compatibility was apparent. “We both have quite conservative views, religiously, politically, and we both liked the fact that in every single aspect, there were no issues to sort out,” Catherine said. She further admired Stephen’s strong character, and his willingness to stand up for his beliefs, even if it was inconvenient. What’s more, his deep commitment to his ideals has not resulted in the loss of humor, as Catherine appreciates his ability to make her laugh, and he loves her Australian accent.
Engagement talk had begun to surface on Catherine’s trip to Montana. “To drop a few hints, I had shown him pictures of rings I liked, but didn’t know whether I would get a proposal when I was there,” she recalled.
But good things came through patience. On their final evening, Stephen drove Catherine out to his favorite place, a hill with a beautiful view of the entire countryside, as the sun was setting. It was their last time together before she would fly back home, with six months between visits.
“He managed to sneak a ring box out of his pocket and put it behind me,” Catherine told CatholicMatch. “So when I turned around the ring was there and he asked me to marry him.”
The challenges for those couples who work through an international relationship often just start at the engagement. Stephen agreed to move to Australia and that required the approval of a visa, for which the wait could be anywhere from five to twelve months. “It made it hard to plan a wedding or even to know whether he would be allowed to live here,” Catherine said. In the meantime, they did the pre-Cana process via Skype with Stephen’s priest in the United States.
This past July, Stephen and Catherine got the great news that his visa was approved, although he was able to arrive just six days before the wedding. They were married in September.
Sticking to your convictions and trusting God to bring you the right person is never easy. Stephen and Catherine were firm in faith and trust and as a result they found each other.